published Friday, October 11th, 2013

Mike Griffin takes over as UTC alumni board president

Mike Griffin, UTC class of 1985, is back on campus as president of the Alumni Board of Directors. He will participate in the dedication of the new Chamberlain Pavilion, in background, at 10 a.m. Saturday on campus.
Mike Griffin, UTC class of 1985, is back on campus as president of the Alumni Board of Directors. He will participate in the dedication of the new Chamberlain Pavilion, in background, at 10 a.m. Saturday on campus.
Photo by Tim Barber.
  • photo
    Chamberlain Field was dedicated on June 3, 1908, as a home for the baseball Mocs, according to history provided by UTC. The first football game was played in October of that year. The stadium was named in honor of Capt. Hiram S. Chamberlain, one of the university’s founders and president of the board of trustees. The South Grandstands on Oak Street, shown here, were erected in 1927 and could seat 5,000 football fans. They were the inspiration for the design of the new Chamberlain Pavilion shown at top.
    Photo by UTC photo

MORE ABOUT MIKE GRIFFIN

Hometown: Dublin, Ga.

Age: 52.

Occupation: First Tennessee Bank community president of Cleveland, Tenn.

Education: Graduate of UTC in 1985, Tennessee Commercial Lending School at Vanderbilt University in 1989 and Tennessee School of Banking at Vanderbilt in 1996.

Family: He and wife Kim have a daughter and son.

Community involvement: UTAA Board of Governors, Erlanger Hospital trustee, member of Rotary Club of Cleveland, board member of Museum Center at Five Points, United Way of Bradley County, Junior Achievement, Ocoee Region. Graduate of Leadership Chattanooga and Leadership Cleveland, past president of Leadership Chattanooga Alumni and of Rotary Club of Hamilton Place.

UTC professor who made an impact on my life: “Dr. Judy West, who took a true interest in me, got me on a path to graduation and made me realize I could be anything I wanted as long as I believed in myself.”

People would be surprised to know: “I broke my neck in college, which really changed my life. It made me understand how precious life is and made me appreciate it and my family so much more.”

UTC HOMECOMING ACTIVITIES

TODAY

Noon Pep rally in Miller Plaza, free.

7 p.m. Noogabend, Heritage Plaza and Student Park on campus at Vine Street entrance. Winners of Step Show will perform followed by concert by Natalie Stovall and the Drive at 8 p.m., free.

8 p.m. Family Movie Night, Challenger Center field on Palmetto Street, free. Bring a blanket and snacks to watch Disney-Pixar’s “Cars.”

SATURDAY

8 a.m. Breakfast with Coach Russ Huesman, Chickamauga Room of University Center, $10 per person, registration required: 425-4773. Get a preview of the Mocs vs. Furman game.

10 a.m. Chamberlain Pavilion Dedication, on campus at site of former Chamberlain Football field, enter from sidewalk beside library, free. Ceremony also includes rededication of the Alumni Torch in its new home adjacent to the pavilion. In addition to all alumni, anyone who played football or performed in a marching band on Chamberlain Field while in high school is also welcome.

11 a.m. Men’s open basketball practice, McKenzie Arena, free. Watch practice, meet players and coaches.

11:30 a.m. Chattanooga Strong Open Practice, Maclellan Gymnasium, free. Watch the Mocs wrestling team practice, meet players and coaches.

3 p.m. Tailgating, First Tennessee Pavilion, free.

6 p.m. Mocs vs. Furman football game, Finley Stadium, $15 walk-up ticket.

SUNDAY

3 p.m. Alumnus Christopher Kirkpatrick’s clarinet recital, UTC Fine Arts Center, free.

Mike Griffin has an opportunity no other president of the UTC Alumni Board has faced: Introducing alumni to changes transforming the school’s campus while still celebrating the traditions and history that have made their alma mater distinctive.

Griffin is the first alumni board president to serve at a time when the college is introducing so many new administrators, explains Jayne Holder, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga director of alumni affairs. His term of office coincides with that of several newcomers to UTC: new Chancellor Steve Angle, provost Jerald Ainsworth, Athletic Director David Blackburn, basketball coaches Will Wade and Jim Foster, Dean Valerie Rutledge in the College of Health Education and Professional Studies and Interim Chancellor for Institutional Advancement Pat Branam.

“I am excited to be in this role with so many changes going on,” says Griffin, a 1985 UTC graduate.

As alumni board president, his duties will include leading board meetings and interacting with collegians on the Student Alumni Council. He will represent alumni on the UC Foundation, the Athletics Board and Chancellor’s Roundtable, at homecoming as well as commencement activities. He will serve as the liaison between the UTC Alumni Board and UT system. He will also assist the UTC Development Office in cultivating and thanking donors.

“Mike has served on the (University of Tennessee Alumni Association) Board of Governors and is a member of the University of Chattanooga Foundation, so he has a very well-rounded view of our campus and the UT system,” says Holder. “Mike is the perfect person to lead our alumni as we continue to achieve and keep them engaged with UTC.”

The season of change doesn’t stop at the administrative level, but also spills into the physical transformation of the campus. Visitors can’t miss the new library towering over the corner of Douglas and Vine streets, just a block away from the recently added Aquatics and Recreation Center.

And Chamberlain Pavilion, just completed on campus at the site of the former Chamberlain Field, will be dedicated Saturday morning as part of homecoming.

Campus buildings have jumped McCallie Avenue— long the campus’ southern boundary line — to move downhill toward M.L. King Boulevard, where housing fills several blocks along Eighth Street.

Even UTC enrollment has reached a new high of 11,674, says Chuck Cantrell, UTC associate vice chancellor, communication and marketing.

“I look at the Aquatics and Recreation Center and the new library and I am so proud for these current students,” says Griffin. “I think change can be positive and it’s exciting to be on the ground floor with a new administration.

“I think the most important thing for new administrators to know about the UTC story — and they do know — is how important this university is to our community and how important it is for that relationship to continue to grow.”

That theme, in fact, has been incorporated into this week’s homecoming slogan: Made in Chattanooga.

Griffin will be the alumni’s front man during this weekend’s whirlwind of homecoming activities. He’ll be on the field at Finley Stadium during halftime ceremonies at Saturday night’s game between UTC and Furman University.

Earlier that day, he’ll participate in the dedication of the Chamberlain Pavilion, whose gothic architecture reflects the look of the former stadium, even incorporating details of the old landmark such as the Chamberlain Field sign, some of the old stadium’s finials and masonry elements. The pavilion will be used for pep rallies, outdoor concerts and lectures, Cantrell says.

“We have re-created the facade of the South Stadium (old Oak Street stands),” he says. “Its translucent ceiling allows for natural lighting while providing some shade.

“I believe it’s going to become an architectural icon for the campus.”

Griffin says he has fond memories of attending football games in the old stadium; it’s where he’d watch his best friend Kim as a cheerleader. Now she’s his wife.

His goal in office is to increase alumni involvement and strengthen the link between new grads and young alumni constituency groups. He admits he knows how hard it is to juggle family, job and volunteer time. In fact, it wasn’t until a few years ago that he had time to give back to his alma mater.

“I went right to work and started raising a family after graduation. It wasn’t until the last five or six years that I really got involved. I am so fortunate to work for a company, First Tennessee Bank, that believes strongly in giving back to the communities we serve and allows me the opportunity to work with UTC, Erlanger and organizations in Cleveland.

“But without UTC, I would never be where I am today and I would have missed the opportunity to serve on this wonderful board, and work with so many great students, faculty and alumni,” he says.

Contact staff writer Susan Pierce at spierce@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6284.

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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